Is samsara meant literal or not

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

yinyangkoi wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 2:42 pm I just can't see how there are realms in a literal sense, or how to find out if there are. But the buddha apparently knew, so how do I gain this insight?
Well then, ignore everything I posted about examining your assumptions. Don’t bother to actually break down what you mean by “literal”.
Just go with the vague terminology.
(By the way, deep analytical meditation on the true nature of things in order to find the answers you are looking for is part of what is known a ‘vipassana’).
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

Post by yinyangkoi »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 4:59 pm
yinyangkoi wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 2:42 pm I just can't see how there are realms in a literal sense, or how to find out if there are. But the buddha apparently knew, so how do I gain this insight?
Well then, ignore everything I posted about examining your assumptions. Don’t bother to actually break down what you mean by “literal”.
Just go with the vague terminology.
(By the way, deep analytical meditation on the true nature of things in order to find the answers you are looking for is part of what is known a ‘vipassana’).
You were right, I started thinking what I mean by literal and I came to the conclusion that I don't know. Well, there is a being that experiences what is described in depictions of samsara. I have another one question, what is being reborn? The karma? Where is this karma? And how is it reborn. Also another question, there is awareness of this being we call I. And it's thinking and writting and asking these questions. But this awareness is aware that this being is not me. So I can see that there are thoughts about samsara, but I am not doing it. It just happens. What does this mean.
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

Post by Jesse »

yinyangkoi wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 6:41 pm
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 4:59 pm
yinyangkoi wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 2:42 pm I just can't see how there are realms in a literal sense, or how to find out if there are. But the buddha apparently knew, so how do I gain this insight?
Well then, ignore everything I posted about examining your assumptions. Don’t bother to actually break down what you mean by “literal”.
Just go with the vague terminology.
(By the way, deep analytical meditation on the true nature of things in order to find the answers you are looking for is part of what is known a ‘vipassana’).
You were right, I started thinking what I mean by literal and I came to the conclusion that I don't know. Well, there is a being that experiences what is described in depictions of samsara. I have another one question, what is being reborn? The karma? Where is this karma? And how is it reborn. Also another question, there is awareness of this being we call I. And it's thinking and writting and asking these questions. But this awareness is aware that this being is not me. So I can see that there are thoughts about samsara, but I am not doing it. It just happens. What does this mean.
It would be much wiser to buy some books, and talk to a teacher about some of these questions in real life. Partially because teaching emptiness to someone who isn't prepared for it is potentially dangerous to them, and teaching emptiness in general is something that should be done under certain conditions. (Having a dedicated teacher who can gauge your ability to understand it, and correct misunderstandings before they harm you).

https://plumvillage.org/sutra/discourse ... emptiness/
This is what I heard:
One time the Buddha was staying in a village of buffalo herders of the Kuru people. At that time the Buddha called the monks to him and said: “Monks I shall teach you the Dharma that is beautiful in the beginning, the middle and the end; the Dharma whose meaning and taste are good, pure and peaceful (greatly beneficial for the world), sublime and undefiled. That is the teaching on the Great Emptiness. Listen deeply and receive it fully.

What is the teaching on Great Emptiness? The teaching is - because that is, this is; because that arises, this arises. It means because there is ignorance, there are formations, because there are formations there is consciousness and so on until the whole mass of suffering arises. As far as the sentence: “Because there is birth, there are old age and death,” someone could ask: “Who is it that grows old and dies,” and then will reply: “It is I myself who grow old and who die and growing old and dying is myself.”

That the soul is the body and that the soul and the body are two separate things, seem to be two opposite contentions. In fact those who say that the soul is the body and those who say that the soul is not the body are basing their premises on the same delusion.
Those who practise the holy life will not hold that the life force and the body are the same. Nor will they agree that the life force and the body are two different things. Those who practise the holy life have to avoid these two extremes (of same and different) and practise the Middle Way. That is Right View, the truth and is not in contradiction with what the great beings have taught. It means that because there is birth there are old age and death. This is true of being, grasping, craving, feeling, contact, the six senses, the psychesoma, consciousness and ignorance.

Thanks to Right View the great beings are able to see the truth that because there is ignorance there are formations (in other words the five skandhas). Hearing this someone could ask: “Who is the five skandhas? To whom do the five skandhas belong?” and then will reply: “These five skandhas are myself. They belong to me.”

Based on the delusion that the five skandhas are myself or are mine, someone thinks that the body and the soul are the same or that the soul and the body are two different things. Those who practise the holy life do not think like that. Same or different are two extreme views, which have to be abandoned so that you can go straight on the Middle Way.

Monks, if you are able to abandon ignorance and desire, understanding arises, as to who is the one who grows old and dies, and to whom old age and death belong. In this way old age and death come to an end. At that point you know that the roots of birth and death have been uprooted, like a palm tree whose top has been cut off, and in the future the roots will not grow again. If the monk is able to abandon delusion and desire and give rise to understanding, then who is it who is born and whose birth is it? In the same way when you continue to look into (the five skandhas) and ask who is the five skandhas and to whom do the five skandhas belong, then grasping to the five skandhas will come to an end. You will know that the roots of the five skandhas of grasping have been uprooted, like a palm tree with its top cut off, and they will not arise again in the future. If you can abandon ignorance and desire so understanding arises, you will see that with the end of ignorance, formations cease and so on until the whole mass of suffering ceases. That is the teaching on the Great Emptiness.

The Buddha had finished the teaching. The monks were delighted to hear it and put it into practice.
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Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.
SilenceMonkey
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

Post by SilenceMonkey »

yinyangkoi wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 6:41 pm
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 4:59 pm
yinyangkoi wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 2:42 pm I just can't see how there are realms in a literal sense, or how to find out if there are. But the buddha apparently knew, so how do I gain this insight?
Well then, ignore everything I posted about examining your assumptions. Don’t bother to actually break down what you mean by “literal”.
Just go with the vague terminology.
(By the way, deep analytical meditation on the true nature of things in order to find the answers you are looking for is part of what is known a ‘vipassana’).
You were right, I started thinking what I mean by literal and I came to the conclusion that I don't know. Well, there is a being that experiences what is described in depictions of samsara. I have another one question, what is being reborn? The karma? Where is this karma? And how is it reborn. Also another question, there is awareness of this being we call I. And it's thinking and writting and asking these questions. But this awareness is aware that this being is not me. So I can see that there are thoughts about samsara, but I am not doing it. It just happens. What does this mean.
It means that there is no "me". Sounds like an insight into no self... ie. that what we usually take as a "me" is just an illusion created by the mind.
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

Post by Malcolm »

seeker242 wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 2:49 pm

The Buddha gained this insight for himself by doing a whole boatload of meditation practice.
Most of which was pointless since in the end he understood that all of his incorrect meditation, in which he engaged for years, was suffering and the cause of suffering.
"Conceptuality is great ignorance,
causing one to fall into the ocean of samsāra."
—Māyājālamahātantra
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

Post by SilenceMonkey »

yinyangkoi wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 8:08 am
seeker242 wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 5:29 am "Stuck in samsara" means literal, continuous birth and death in various realms of rebirth. Like this one we are in now, the human realm. It's not just a metaphor, it's just as real as this human life and body is. If you make bad karma, you could be reborn as a dog, just like the neighbors dog down the street, literally.
Alright but how do you gain this insight? How can I know for myself. I don't want to believe something blindly
There are meditation masters who can see these things. Most of us can't because we still have very heavy obscurations obscuring our minds. I think your best bet would be to find some buddhist masters who can give you answers.

Sometimes spiritual experiences will happen spontaneously as we get deeper and deeper into practice. But know that if you go in with some idea of finding proof of other worlds, reincarnation or whatever it is you are looking for... Many people will walk into a spiritual training environment looking for these things, and when they don't find them they leave. In my opinion, this is not only a case of confirmation bias (on the side of skepticism), it is also a sign of a short attention span. If you really want to see truth, you have to be in for the long haul because it doesn't come easily....

That being said, some people in the buddhist world will steer you away from merely seeking direct perception of phenomena beyond what appears to our senses and towards more profound truths. There are many things that we are unaware of in this world. Maybe you will find an authentic master of meditation who will show you how to practice for a prolonged period of time in a retreat. That would be a catalyst for your spiritual growth... assuming you are ready for it.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

yinyangkoi wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 6:41 pmwhat is being reborn? The karma? Where is this karma? And how is it reborn. Also another question, there is awareness of this being we call I. And it's thinking and writting and asking these questions. But this awareness is aware that this being is not me. So I can see that there are thoughts about samsara, but I am not doing it. It just happens. What does this mean.
“Reborn” is unfortunately a very clumsy word, but it’s a little bit better than “reincarnated”. I think a better word altogether would be “cloned” or maybe a “knock off” like an imitation designer handbag, because what Buddhist theory argues is that it’s not so much that there is a continuous self-being (atman) but rather a constant arising, based on conditions, that replicates the previous arising, reflecting those conditions. So, what you experience as “me” in this very moment is almost identical to the “me” experienced only moments ago, because the causes are nearly identical. For example, most of your body cells are the same. There may be a consistent train of thought. So, the experience of “who is it” certainly occurs. But, it’s somewhat of an illusion.

One way to think of this series-of-moments is like a string of wooden beads, like prayer beads (a mala) that pass though one’s fingers in succession while one recites a mantra. The beads are individual. The mala isn’t a solid wooden ring.

Likewise, we are not like a solid wooden ring, that is some kind of “self” but rather like the beads. Our thoughts, our experiences, arise one after another. The difference from this analogy is that on a mala, the beads are already all there. But in the case of sentient beings, each thought actually creates the causes that produce the next thought. (and that’s basically what karma is). So, in a sense, “who”, or what you are now is a replica, almost like a clone of “who” you were just seconds ago.

That constantly replicating stream of awareness continues night and day, awake. Asleep, and even when one is unconscious, which is why a person can wake up from a coma and immediately pick up the sense of identity from where they left off.

The reasoning that supports rebirth (from one body to another, the way we generally think of it) is that since one thought must be caused by a preceding by thought, and that a thought doesn’t spontaneously pop out of nowhere, without a previous cause, that on a very subtle level the stream of awareness continues replicating itself even from one life to the next.
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

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yinyangkoi wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 7:07 pm As far as I understand it, samsara represents different stages of consciousness, or perhaps even emotions, for example frustration, lust, anger, etc. However I am not sure. Some people seem to believe it is meant literal, that remaining karma at death causes the birth in the specific realm. Which one is correct? And if I am unaffected by karma, does it mean I have attained buddhahood?
The realms are realms of experience experienced as real, including this one.
I heard this story about a fish. He swims up to an older fish and says: “I’m trying to find this thing they call the ocean.” “The ocean?” the older fish says, “that’s what you’re in right now.” “This”, says the young fish, “this is water. What I want is the ocean!”
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

The thing is, if one asks “is it real or is it just a description of different mental states?”
then you have to establish what the difference is between “real” and “mental state”.
There are of course, in a relative context, what we call delusional or even psychotic mental states. For example, a person who thinks their hands are dirty or bloody despite how much they wash them.
But in a larger sense, when we talk about realms, the human realm for example, what defines that experience isn’t opposable thumbs and walking upright. What defines the human realm is a state of mind which is never satisfied because of constantly shifting conditions.
So, one day it’s raining and you have no money, the next day it’s sunny and you find a hundred dollar bill. Are those experiences ‘real’? Are they states of mind?
They are both, simultaneously. But if you show that money to a cat, the cat will not care.
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

Post by master of puppets »

IS Buddhism religion or literal?

Yes. You can't escape from. Even at the and you re-join the way

Why it is not literal?

Cause you live it..
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

Post by yinyangkoi »

How can there be karma and rebirth if there is no self? If it's all in the mind, isn't the process of karma and rebirth also in the mind? If the mind is creator of world and self, creator of everything? Isn't it also creator of karma and samsara? And rebirth?
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

Post by Malcolm »

yinyangkoi wrote: Wed Jul 28, 2021 6:28 pm How can there be karma and rebirth if there is no self?
If there was a self, there could not be karma and rebirth. As for the first instance, a self, being uncompounded and permanent, cannot generate effects which are impermanent. As for the second, how can something uncompounded and impermanent be reborn since it is self-existing?
"Conceptuality is great ignorance,
causing one to fall into the ocean of samsāra."
—Māyājālamahātantra
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

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PadmaVonSamba wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 8:08 pm Actually, by the time you are 22 years old, you have lived through three entirely different human bodies.
Not entirely different . The neurons in your cerebral cortex and lenses in your eyes would be the same neurons and same lenses that you had the day you were born. The enamel on your teeth would be the same as that which you had after the replacement of your milk teeth. Though it's very popular on Buddhist forums, the notion that the entire human body gets replaced every seven years is an urban legend, not a scientific fact.

https://youtu.be/XqJWSyUbmkw
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Malcolm wrote: Wed Jul 28, 2021 8:29 pm
yinyangkoi wrote: Wed Jul 28, 2021 6:28 pm How can there be karma and rebirth if there is no self?
If there was a self, there could not be karma and rebirth. As for the first instance, a self, being uncompounded and permanent, cannot generate effects which are impermanent. As for the second, how can something uncompounded and impermanent be reborn since it is self-existing?
Correct. As HH Dalai Lama mentions in the book, Essence of the Heart Sutra, it is precisely because there is no permanent ‘self’ that rebirth can occur.

Anything permanent is, by definition, unchanging.
Any definition of an essential ‘self’ would constitute something permanent.
One cannot assert a ‘constantly changing self’ because if it is one thing on Monday and something else on Tuesday, it lacks whatever continuity needed to establish it as a ‘self’.
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

Post by Supramundane »

Queen Elizabeth II wrote: Wed Jul 28, 2021 11:27 pm
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 8:08 pm Actually, by the time you are 22 years old, you have lived through three entirely different human bodies.
Not entirely different . The neurons in your cerebral cortex and lenses in your eyes would be the same neurons and same lenses that you had the day you were born. The enamel on your teeth would be the same as that which you had after the replacement of your milk teeth. Though it's very popular on Buddhist forums, the notion that the entire human body gets replaced every seven years is an urban legend, not a scientific fact.

https://youtu.be/XqJWSyUbmkw
Interesting.

Are you familiar with the Ship of Theseus riddle? Does it apply to the human body?
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

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Queen Elizabeth II wrote: Wed Jul 28, 2021 11:27 pm
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 8:08 pm Actually, by the time you are 22 years old, you have lived through three entirely different human bodies.
Not entirely different . The neurons in your cerebral cortex and lenses in your eyes would be the same neurons and same lenses that you had the day you were born. The enamel on your teeth would be the same as that which you had after the replacement of your milk teeth. Though it's very popular on Buddhist forums, the notion that the entire human body gets replaced every seven years is an urban legend, not a scientific fact.

No, they aren't "the same", any more than an orange is "the same" orange three days later. The designation of "sameness" there is conceptual - the illusory nature-. I get the objection to the claim on scientific grounds, but the analysis ends up in the same place anyway. There are no static body parts that remain "the same" body part years later, due to cell degeneration due to aging and all kinds of other crap, plus you could get into smaller units of matter, etc., and again they would not be the "same" lenses or enamel, though you could say they shared material with the old version.
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

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In my humble opinion I find no contradiction in thinking that they are both states of mind and real kingdoms at the same time. If i die in angry state of mind i rebirth in hell. And if i die happy i rebirth in kingdom of devas. They are at the same time states of mind and real kingdoms
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

Post by yinyangkoi »

Kova wrote: Sat Jul 31, 2021 2:10 am In my humble opinion I find no contradiction in thinking that they are both states of mind and real kingdoms at the same time. If i die in angry state of mind i rebirth in hell. And if i die happy i rebirth in kingdom of devas. They are at the same time states of mind and real kingdoms
But there is no way to know for sure these kingdoms are real... We can only speculate and believe on blind faith. Of course it's possible, but there is no way to know
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

yinyangkoi wrote: Sat Jul 31, 2021 9:54 am
Kova wrote: Sat Jul 31, 2021 2:10 am In my humble opinion I find no contradiction in thinking that they are both states of mind and real kingdoms at the same time. If i die in angry state of mind i rebirth in hell. And if i die happy i rebirth in kingdom of devas. They are at the same time states of mind and real kingdoms
But there is no way to know for sure these kingdoms are real... We can only speculate and believe on blind faith. Of course it's possible, but there is no way to know
Likewise, there is really no need to know for sure.

As a friend of mine used to say, “what will you do with the information?”

Knowing whether the other realms are “real” or not doesn’t have to be the motivation for one’s practice. And it probably shouldn’t be, although obviously millions of people practice Buddhism in one way or another out of some fear of being reborn in a lower realm.

But (even more importantly, in my opinion) what matters is asking oneself why needing to know is so important. And I think that ultimately it is because of self-grasping. So, that’s one thing to consider.

And again, when we talk about other things being “real” we are comparing that reality to our own experiences of what we think of as reality. For example, you would say that the animal realm is real, because we can see that animals have flesh and blood and they eat and poop, just as humans do. So, they are “real” in the same sense, the same way, that humans are “real”. So, one will say “that dog is real, just as I am real”.

But on the other hand, Buddha teaches to examine further to see what that self-reality is really composed of. Who is the “I” that says “I am real”? and ultimately one finds that this “I” has no reality to it either. It is an entirely made-up experience.

So, you can determine that yes, the other realms are definitely as real as you are, because they are no more real than you are, or than the “I” that you imagine yourself to be, no more “real” than the mental projection you or I have of this world.

They are no more real than you are.
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Re: Is samsara meant literal or not

Post by Crazywisdom »

yinyangkoi wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 7:07 pm As far as I understand it, samsara represents different stages of consciousness, or perhaps even emotions, for example frustration, lust, anger, etc. However I am not sure. Some people seem to believe it is meant literal, that remaining karma at death causes the birth in the specific realm. Which one is correct? And if I am unaffected by karma, does it mean I have attained buddhahood?
Samsara means cyclic existence, which means rebirth, old age, sickness and death. There are several realms in samsara, like human, animal, demon, ghost, demi-god, and brahma. Each is dominated by a particular emotion. Emotions drive intentions which move us, aka we act. Action is karma. All karma has its consequence. You are human, you act, you are subject to karmic consequence. If there is one act and one consequence there is a chain that never ends. This is the literal samsara. To transcend samsara one must see how the person, it's senses and consciousnesses is just a pile of nameless suffering. And that suffering has no root, no basis and no container. This is nonliteral samsara.
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